Sand, surf, and history lessons in York, Maine

Get comfortable on the coast with inviting inns, eclectic amusements, natural beauty

The Sayward-Wheeler House, built in 1718, is one of the many historical houses available for tours in York. The Sayward-Wheeler House, built in 1718, is one of the many historical houses available for tours in York. (Hilary Nangle for The Boston Globe)
By Hilary Nangle
Globe Correepondent / June 1, 2011

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Dip into history or ocean waters in York, a southern Maine town comprising the villages of York Harbor, a residential area with a sprinkling of inns; York Village, with a collection of historical buildings; York Beach, with miles of sand and plentiful amusements; and Cape Neddick, a semirural section of town.

STAY The York Harbor Inn (Route 1A, York Harbor, 207-363-5119 or 800-343-3869, www.york, $149-$349, with breakfast) is an accommodating country inn with a dining room and tavern. Gardens and woodlands surround Morning Glory Inn (120 Seabury Road, York Harbor, 207-363-2062,, $155-$235 with breakfast), a secluded, boutique bed-and-breakfast catering to romantics. The 1889 Chapman Cottage (370 York St., York Harbor, 207-363-2059 or 877-363-2059,, $175-$225 with breakfast) is a plush B&B. Inviting Adirondack-style chairs accent the harbor-front lawn at Edwards’ Harborside Inn (7 Stage Neck Road, York Harbor, 207-363-3037 or 800-273-2686,, $170-$300 with breakfast). For less expensive digs, check into Katahdin Inn (11 Ocean Ave., York Beach, 207-363-1824,, $65-$145), a comfy guesthouse overlooking Short Sands Beach. The Candleshop Inn (44 Freeman St., York Beach, 207-363-4087 or 888-363-4087,, $105-$195, with breakfast) is a vegetarian B&B and holistic retreat center near Short Sands Beach. The pet-friendly Country View Motel & Guesthouse (1521 Route 1, 800-258-6598,, $85-$250) has accommodations ranging from standard rooms to townhouses.

DINE Of course you want lobster, and Lobster Cove (756 York St., York Harbor, 207-351-1100,, serves the tasty crustacean with views of crashing surf on Long Sands Beach. Pair shopping at Stonewall Kitchen (Stonewall Lane, York, 207-351-2712 or 800-207-5267, with lunch in the café. For a light meal, relax at the Chapman Cottage Lounge (370 York St., York Harbor, 207-363-2059 or 877-363-2059,, $10-$15). The York Harbor Inn (Route 1A, York Harbor, 207-363-5119, $9-$30) has two dining venues, the white-tablecloth, ocean-view 1637 dining room and the casual Ship’s Cellar Pub, sharing the same menu of seafood, pasta, and sandwiches, making it easy to choose your comfort level. The eclectic menu at Frankie and Johnny’s Natural Foods (1594 Route 1, Cape Neddick, 207-363-1909,, $18-$29, no credit cards, BYOB) ranges from vegan soup to grilled tenderloin. Get the scoop at Brown’s Ice Cream (232 Nubble Road, York Beach, 207-363-1277).

DURING THE DAY Immerse in nearly 400 years of history at the Old York Historical Society (207 York St., York Village, 207-363-4974,, $12 adults, $25 per family), with eight colonial and postcolonial buildings. Continue the history tour at the 1718 Sayward-Wheeler House (9 Barrell Lane Ext., York Harbor, 207-384-2454,, $5). Loop out to Cape Neddick Light Station (Nubble Road, York Beach,, built in 1879 and nicknamed the Nubble. Catch rays at Short Sands Beach or Long Sands Beach, both accessible via Route 1A. Time for a stroll? Cross the Wiggly Bridge on Route 103, just off Route 1A in York Harbor, and loop through the Steedman Woods preserve. For a more strenuous hike, head up Mount Agamenticus (directions at, within a 10,000-acre preserve in one of the most biologically diverse, undeveloped forestlands in coastal New England. Looking for a little outdoor adventure? Join Excursions: Coastal Maine Outfitting Company (1740 Route 1, Cape Neddick, 207-363-0181, on a half-day sea-kayaking tour ($60) or catch a wave with Liquid Dreams Surf Shop (171 Long Beach Ave., York, 207-351-2545, Rental surfboards begin at $8 per hour. Book a four-hour guided fishing trip with Eldredge Bros. Guide Service (1480 Route 1, Cape Neddick, 207-373-9269,, rates begin at $250). Golfers may want to check out the Cape Neddick Country Club (650 Shore Road, Cape Neddick, 207-361-2011,, $35-$67). If you have youngsters in tow, York’s Wild Kingdom (102 Railroad Ave., off Route 1, York Beach, 207-363-4911 or 800-456-4911,, $15-$22 adult, $9-$16 ages 4-10, $1-$5 ages 3 and younger), a combination zoo and amusement park, features more than 250 critters.

AFTER DARK Live blues, reggae, and rock bands as well as comedians perform regularly at Inn on the Blues (7 Ocean Ave., York Beach, 207-351-3221, The Ship’s Cellar Pub in the York Harbor Inn (see Dine) has live music Tuesday through Saturday, including an open-mike night on Thursdays, and low-key swing, folk, soft rock, and jazz evenings on other nights. Free summer concerts are often held evenings at the Ellis Park Gazebo.

Contact Hilary Nangle at